Anise, or Aniseed as it is sometimes referred to, is one of the main ingredients of Absinthe and is the main flavoring in Ouzo, a Greek alcoholic beverage.
Its botanical time is Pimpinella Anisum and it is a spice which is used in cooking and for flavoring candies like liquorice. Even though it has a liquorice taste, it is not related to the herb liquorice or licorice.
Anise is a flowering plant and is a member of the “Apiaceae” family of plants which are aromatic with hollow stems. The Apiaceae family includes fennel (another ingredient of Absinthe), carrots, parsnip, cumin, coriander and caraway. Anise is a herbaceous annual and it grows naturally in Southwest Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Anise and Medicine
Anise has many medicinal uses:-
– As an antiseptic.
– To treat insomnia.
– To treat scorpion stings (when mixed with wine)
– To relive toothache.
– As an antispasmodic.
– To treat indigestion.
– To treat coughs, colds and bronchitis.
– To treat parasites, lice and scabies.
– As a breath freshener.
It is used in the manufacture of cough medicines and lozenges and used widely by aromatherapists.
Anise and Cooking
Anise is used in many sweets and candies – aniseed balls, aniseed wheels and many other candies throughout the world. It is also used in Indian cooking, Middle Eastern cooking, in cakes and cookies, stews, pickles and with fish.
Anise and Alcohol
It is a major ingredient in many alcoholic drinks throughout the world including:-
– Ouzo from Greece.
– Raki from Turkey.
– Sambuca from Italy.
– Arak, the Arabic drink.
– Pastis – the French aperitif.
– Absinthe – with other spices and herbs including wormwood, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, star anise, juniper, dittany, veronica and nutmeg.
Anise is also made to make some types of root beer in the US and to make a Mexican hot chocolate style drink called champurrado.
When Absinthe was banned in 1915 in France due to its controversial herbal ingredient Wormwood, many manufacturers and distilleries wanted to make an Absinthe substitute. French company Pernod, who first produced Absinthe, made Pernod Pastis. Pastis had many of the ingredients of Absinthe and its aniseed flavor but without wormwood. Absinthe is now legal in many countries around the world and so is back in production.
In the United States today, thujone, the chemical in wormwood, is still strictly regulated so normal Absinthe is still illegal. An American distillery is now making an Absinthe with minute quantities of thujone called Absinthe Verte. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will only allow amounts of up to 10 parts per million of thujone so the distillery, St George, are sticking to the rules and have created an Absinthe which is low in thujone.
St George Absinthe Verte is made from brandy and herbs including wormwood, basil (which has an aniseed flavor), anise, fennel, tarragon and mint.
Anise can also be found in Absinthe essences from online companies like AbsintheKit.com who produce essences for the Absinthe industry and for people to mix at home with vodka or Everclear to make their own Absinthe liquor. These essences also contain the vital Absinthe ingredient wormwood. No Absinthe is complete without the flavor of anise and the bitter flavor of wormwood.